Monday, September 8, 2008

Native Customary Rights (NCR) Land In Sarawak Needs Reform Which Taib Refuses To Undertake

Sarawak Land Reform - Historical Context

by C T Choo, Thursday, May 22, 2008, de minimis

In his seminal book Malaysian Politics (2nd Edition 1976), Gordon P. Means wrote on the saga of Stephen Kalong Ningkan's attempt to institute land reform in Sarawak:-

During 1965 a political crisis developed within the Sarawak Alliance over land reform proposed by the Chief Minister, Stephen Kalong Ningkan of SNAP. While the legislation had been under consideration for almost three years the decision to implement the proposals came as a surprise to those who hoped they would be forgotten. The basic question was whether the system of native land rights should be amended to allow greater land use by the immigrant communities. Under previous laws the Chinese could only own land in very limited areas designated as "Mixed Zones", while Malays and natives own land in "Native Areas". In addition, the interior tribal natives had customary rights over "Native Customary Land". Chief Minister Ningkan's land reform bills would have changed these laws by giving the interior natives right to acquire full title to "Native Customary Land", including the right to sell their land to whomever they wished. Consequently, the proposed reforms were advantageous to interior tribal natives who would gain title to large tracts of potentially valuable jungle land (emphasis added).

Means went on to describe the following:-

When Ningkan got wind of the efforts being made by BARJASA Secretary-General Inche Taib Mahmud to undermine his government from within, he dismissed Inche Taib from the Sarawak Cabinet. This action precipitated a crisis between the pro-Ningkan forces and the pro-Kuala Lumpur forces. From the point of view of the Federal Government, the test of strength came prematurely, for only BARJASA and Pesaka joined the revolt, while Ningkan retained the support of his own party (SNAP) along with PANAS and the SCA. The next day an entourage of BARJASA and Pesaka officials flew to Kuala Lumpur, and later produced a letter which expressed "no confidence" in Ningkan. On the basis of this letter, signed by 21 members of the Council Negri, Tunku Abdul Rahman demanded that Ningkan resign. Ningkan refused to do so since the opposition parties had no desire to bring down his government on this issue (i.e. the issue of land reform in Sarawak), and thus with their votes he was confident of gaining 21 of the 42 votes in the Council Negri, plus the Speaker's casting vote. Consequently, BARJASA and Pesaka boycotted the Council Negri sessions, preferring instead to invite direct federal intervention.

The rest, as they say, is history. Ningkan was sacked and the attempt at land reform was buried.
The key document that we should re-visit is the Report of the Land Committee, 1962 (Kuching, Sarawak; Government Printer, 1963) published by the Government of Sarawak.


CT Choo said...


I am rather miffed that you have posted an entry from my blog without attribution. But I fully support your cause and, I am happy that you find the information fitting for the cause of bringing about a change in the Sarawak BN government.

CT Choo

Anonymous said...

If the land reformed is true, the dayaks will be forever landless. If those land can be sold, the dayak being poor will sell their land even to the Chinese even before their land gets the title. That is true if you ever go to Sematan in Lundu. Look now who owns the land there? Are they Malays, the Selakos or the Iban,or the Dayaks? Not, most of the land are being owned by the Chinese. Now the Chinese, because they have the capital turned those land to resort. So you still want to blame the government? If PKR is going to govern Sarawak and implement their evil plan, they Dayak in no time will be landless because once title is given to the land, there are already Chinese buyers who are willing to part with their money to buy those land.

chapchai said...

I heard about this land reform bill when I was a young woman living in Kuching but I wasn't politically aware then, unlike now. There ought to be a re-look at this bill, after the CM has been ousted, and tweaks made to ensure that the title holders are not conned into selling them cheaply to Chinese towkays. In other words, if this is brought up again and properly debated and approved, there must be a body carefully chosen to act as a watchdog. Then, perhaps, we can look at retrospective compensation? For example, hundreds of kms of virgin jungle was cleared to make way for the Bakun dam. What happened to the timber from there? Surely the proceeds should then go to the people who had rights to that land? Hmm, food for thought.

Anonymous said...


The 58 year old headman, Egar Andil (gov't pensioner).

What is "god enough" for him?

(1) some aid, including minor rural project
(2)RM5000 from Dr Rundi to buy paint
(3)But he said waiver of RM20 for electricity bill should be increased to RM50

This is typical bench-marking by goverment appointed Tuai Rumah of Dayak (Iban)

It is a pity that Dayak in general and Sea Dayak (Iban) has not learn from the 1965 Land Bill.

Ningkan was overthrown by unconstitutional means when the then Inche Taib led 21 ADUN to meet TAR.

Now our Native Customary Rights land dissipated infront of our eyes. That includes our "learned" Tuai Rumah Egar Andil